This is probably my single favorite piece in this Collection. Very finely carved, I love its' calm simplicity!
Lega art was associated with Bwami - a graded association that included all adult males and their wives, but whose rituals were carefully guarded secrets as far as non-initiates were concerned.
These are sometimes referred to as maskettes or miniatures (because they are not deep enough inside to wear over the face). Usually belonging to members of the Yananio rank, they were more often held in front of the face, worn on top or at the back of the head, or held in hand. They were also sometimes laid on the ground or displayed on a fence during guarded secret ceremonies. The social significance of owing these masks was far more important than their ritualistic value.
Some owners stored them hidden in sacks between uses - and once done with, dismantled. Others saw them as ancestral believing that the dead left their moral spirits on them, and instead handed them on.
This very fine mask clearly illustrates the Lega simplicity of form!
CONDITION: Very fine. There is one slight age crack at the top of the rear that does not go through to the front. Wonderful facial expression. Very well carved. Light weight wood. Beautiful patina showing reddish undertones. The piece shows good use. Missing in this example is a hairpiece. Acquired in 1950 by way of 'trade" with a tribal member. Exact age unknown, but it is likely from early in the 20th century.
The is the most peaceful mask.